Turned Weapons in Egyptian Iconography – The Decorum of Dominance

Abstract

While numerous studies have been published on Egyptian weaponry over the years, relatively few have looked at symbolic aspects of the use and display of weapons in Egyptian art and in actual combat.  In the 1990’s the present author produced a series of studies on the symbolic use of the “turned bow” showing its actual and representational use as a symbol of dominance and submission. The present article greatly expands that research by examining the use of other weapons in similar circumstances. The results confirm the conclusions of the earlier studies of the bow and show that all weapons having a “front” and “back” were used in the same manner for the display of dominance.  Although the present article considers only the evidence from Egypt, the earlier research showed that the use of the bow in dominance display was part of a lingua franca of gesture symbolism used throughout many areas of the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean world, from Achaemenid Persia to Greece.

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Wilkinson, R. H., (2015) “Turned Weapons in Egyptian Iconography – The Decorum of Dominance”, Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 7(3), p.95-100. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/azu_jaei_v07i3_wilkinson

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Richard H. Wilkinson (University of Arizona)

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